Tag Archives: Green-Wood

Susurrus

Early this morning I took a walk. It was before the sun rose, and a breeze lifted leaves and pollen from the sidewalks and swirled around my feet. Bubo was on my shoulder, and as we so often do, we walked through the Green-Wood Cemetery, enjoying the quiet that so rarely graces Brooklyn.

We walked beneath the trees and wound around the gravestones and it felt as though the earth were telling us a great secret, barely audible at first. Soon the wind was whipping through the trees and there was an explosion of leaves, flowers, pollen and feathers. Then that low rumble. As I often mumble, something wicked this way comes. Usually this means Mordecai is on the move, but he’s laid up in bed with a fever and Charles is reading him the complete works of Dostoevsky.

This brings us to susurrus. This noun is pronounced soo-SUHR-uhs and means a whispering or rustling sound. From the Latin susurrare to hum, to whisper, the first documented use of the word was 1826. And, naturally, you can use the verb susurrate (to whisper, murmur) or the adjective susurrous (full of whispering sounds) to round out your vocabulary.

One might say that Bubo and I experienced a low susurrus before the wind created the botanical explosion in the cemetery. One might also say that a violent storm is often preceded by a susurrus of anxiety and power. One might say a lot of things, my dears, and it is important that one has a full vocabulary with which to speak.

Batten Down the Hatches

Here comes Hurricane Irene. By this morning, we in Brooklyn were already experiencing weather due to the arms of the hurricane – rain and light wind.

I spent most of the day yesterday moving things inside from the garden and porches (possible projectiles. a garden gnome is formidable when thrown by 75 mph winds) and boarding up the uppermost windows.

Then I remembered the grotto and my secret subterranean canal. A large concern with a hurricane in the mid-Atlantic coastal area is the storm surge and subsequent flooding. This would make my underground river a danger from beneath the house. So I focused my attentions on the grotto. I pulled my tiny barge in from the canal. I boarded up the entrance to the grotto as best I could, with plywood and rocks knocked loose from this Tuesday’s earthquake.

I put Mahto to work making sand bags and Beatrix helped me layer and stack them to prevent flooding. The Gruffelnut has a surprisingly keen eye for this sort of thing, and with the help of the specimens, I believe the grotto has been blockade off and we should be safe from a subterranean flood. I hope the catacombs do not flood, but we are on rather high ground here. This old house is not located in a flood zone, and with the proximity to The Green-Wood Cemetery, we’re actually near the highest point in Brooklyn.

The dragons and Bubo spent most of yesterday in the wind, watching the storm clouds approach. Poor Barkly, he seems to have gone a bit mad from stress and storm pressure. The Laboratory was a room full of bedlam yesterday, though as the storm steadily approaches, all the creatures seem to have quieted down today. Perhaps anticipation breeds silence?

We have battened down the hatches and we are awaiting the storm.

Batten Down the Hatches is a nautical phrase, originating in the late 1700s (in William Falconer’s An Universal Dictionary of the Marine). Ship’s hatches (doorways, windows) were often left open for ventilation and air flow into the lower decks of ships. When bad weather approached, these hatches were covered with tarps and other coverings, held in place with strips of wood called “battens”. Thus Batten Down the Hatches literally meant  cover the doorways and windows and secure them with the strips of wood.

And you thought you wouldn’t learn something today. For shame, oddlings, for shame.

Stay safe. Be smart. As Cousin Octavia likes to say “A hurricane is like an angry ex-lover. You know it’s going to be bad. Just prepare for the worst and then you’ll just end up wet, tired and slightly dazed.”

Oh, Cousin Octavia. I am often thankful she’s a distant cousin.

Pre-Seating is Gravely Advised

You must book ahead for a seat at the cemetery! I am crushed that I missed the midnight showing (and catacombs tour) of The Spoon River Project at The Green-Wood Cemetery. Bubo and I reasoned we wouldn’t need tickets, especially since it’s summer and so many people go away for the week-ends.

We reasoned incorrectly.

Instead, I sat on the Widow’s Walk and read Poe whilst Bubo sang softly to herself. I think it was Count Basie, but I can’t be sure.

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Pan. Fried.

I admit to having too much sherry last night whilst reading mysteries and listening to the Kurundu birds sing like falling rain. It took a veritable keg of strong java to lull me from my slumber state, and I will warn you, fair readers: I could be considered crankier than usual.

Bubo littered bones all over the front step after a night of voracious hunting. (I’m assuming; perhaps she’s taken to grave-robbing, though for what ends, I’m unsure.) She disappeared this afternoon, most likely to nap in the breeze at The Green-Wood Cemetery, so I was left with sweeping up the pile.

I found this fellow between the rose bushes and the apiary.

He smells faintly of key limes and bleats “woah” every few minutes. I was unsure of his eyesight, but he kicked one of his sandals at me when I lit my pipe.

Should he become upright and angry, I am thankful he is not polycerate.

Oh, look it up.

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